NFL rookies show that money is the root of all evil

BILL LANKHOF, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:06 AM ET

Money — like mannah from heaven — doesn’t always bring happiness, as can be attested by the fine whine emanating from National Football League training camps.

Basically, it’s millionaire players bitching at multi-millionaire owners. Yesterday, the Pittsburgh Steelers told their free agents to shut up and like it.

Steelers kicker Jeff Reed accused team management of being liars and in New York, the inevitable snitfit and name-calling is starting in the Jets‚ failed attempts to sign cornerback Darrelle Revis.

The Jets are calling him greedy.

Revis says he’s hurt, frustrated and feeling unappreciated.

If it’s not the owners and players fighting, it’s team-mates aiming to kick each other in the billfold. “I’d like to tell (Ndamukong Suh), ‘Just sign the damn contract already. You are missing some good things here,’ ”Detroit Lions centre Dom Raiola said after the NFL’s No. 2 draft pick missed his sixth workout yesterday.

Frustrated

Raiola seems frustrated that an unproven rookie is haggling over more guaranteed money than most players earn in their entire careers. “I understand the business side of it, but when you are talking $40 million (US), $42 million, $43 million, I don’t know what the big difference is,” Raiola said. “Any way you cut it, after taxes, that’s $20 million. So you’ve got to get that name signed and get out here.”

Meanwhile, Revis is probably rethinking why the Jets, two days after being eliminated from the playoffs, asked him to throw out the rest of a three-year deal in favour of a more lucrative long-term marriage. Sounded like a love-in at the time.

But now the two can’t come to agreement. The Jets say they’ve offered a long-term deal at more than $100 million and a stop-gap that would pay more than Revis’ current $1-million salary in 2010, but less than the $5.3 million they’ll pay tackle D’Brickashaw Ferguson.

But, in pro sports size does matter and respect is measured not so much by the amount of your own paycheque but whether that paycheque is as big, or bigger, than the other guy’s. Revis is thinking he’s worth Nnamdi Asomugha contract money — about $15 million a year.

Sounds steep. But the team isn’t playing fair either, calling him greedy and throwing figures of $100 million around like lost loonies. That money isn’t guaranteed and most of it disappears should Revis be injured or fail to perform at the team’s whim.

Teams can sign players to billion-dollar contracts but unless there’s a guarantee it’s about as valuable as a fistful of Enron stock — and it’s difficult to blame Revis for wanting a deal that is still a deal tomorrow and a deal next year.

The Steelers, meantime, quietly called in their free agents and told them there would be no more contract talk. The Pittsburgh Post Gazette reported director of football operations Kevin Colbert met with linebacker LaMarr Woodley, tackle Willie Colon, cornerback Ike Taylor and Jeff Reed. “I understand business moves, but I’m not a big fan of lying,” said Reed, set to make $2.814 million this year as the team’s franchise player. “I was told one thing and another thing happened ... I’m really disappointed ... little bit bitter.”

The Schobel shuffle

Veteran Aaron Schobel still doesn’t know if he wants to play football next season.

If he does, it won’t be with the Bills. Buddy Nix, the Bills’ general manager says the team is going ahead without its leading pass rusher.

The Bills have told Schobel they would release him if he came back at this point.

While Schobel could still help the Bills, it makes more sense from both the player and the team’s viewpoint to part ways. The Bills are rebuilding and paying Schobel $8 million knowing he is not returning after this season doesn’t make much sense.

Schobel at the same time isn’t happy about having to change positions in the Bills’ new system, being introduced by first-year coach Chan Gailey. There’s also a matter of never having been in the playoffs. Speculation is that if he comes back, Schobel would like to play with a team that has a chance at the post-season.

The Bills have put Schobel on their retired list. “I understand it. I would’ve done the same thing if I was in their shoes,” Schobel said. “I’m sort of relieved.” Money, for once, has never been an issue.

Jet-issoned

His San Diego teammates talk as if they’ll miss LaDainian Tomlinson about as much as a case of the measles.

“Maybe it’s a feeling of, ‘I can do a little more without wondering what he thinks,’ ” Chargers’ quarterback Philip Rivers told the San Diego Union-Tribune as the Chargers are starting training camp for the first time in eight seasons without the 2006 league MVP.

The 31-year-old Tomlinson signed with the Jets after being released by the Chargers. He had his worst season as a Charger in 2009, rushing for 730 yards, his first season with fewer than 1,000 rushing yards.

Meantime, Antonio Gates said he had a “wonderful relationship” with Tomlinson but that the five-time Pro Bowler’s infatuation with stardom sometimes got in the way. “Obviously, I miss LT. I played with him a whole lot. But the reality is Philip and I have a more core friendship because of the openness. Me and LT had a wonderful relationship too. But sometimes you got the sense of stardom status and you can only take it so far.”

Quick hits:

Eagles wideout Jeremy Maclin had to be helped to the dressing room with what is believed to be a hyper-extended knee ... Baltimore receiver Derrick Mason had to be helped off the field after injuring his right leg when he was hit by safety Dawan Landry. The 36-year-old has missed just six games in his NFL career, none in the last seven seasons ... Colts’ owner Jim Irsay promised he’ll find a way to extend Peyton Manning’s contract and keep him in Indianapolis ... Miami linebacker Jeff Darlington is believed to have torn his ACL ... Texans’ Steve Slaton has impressed with renewed quickness after undergoing cervical fusion surgery. Slaton gained 1,658 yards as a rookie but is slated as a passing down specialist and backup. Undrafted free agent Arian Foster has taken the starting job at camp ... Albert Haynesworth didn’t even attempt to pass his conditioning test yesterday resting a sore ego (oops, don’t ya just hate these typos) ... I mean, a sore knee ... Roger Goodell had a one-to-one discussion with Mike Vick in his tour of camps. Bet nobody told him that part of his job as commissioner would include moonlighting as a the world’s most expensive babysitter.


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